Thu, Jul 05, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Group calls for less alcohol in food

‘SUMMERTIME TREAT’:FamilyMart and Le Ble d’or launched a promotion offering a free beer with each purchase of their beer-flavored ice cream, angering parents

By Chen Yi-chia  /  Staff reporter

Following a backlash over an alcoholic ice cream sold at FamilyMart convenience stores, the Consumers’ Foundation on Tuesday urged the government to lower the alcohol concentration allowed in food products from 0.5 to 0.05 percent to bring the limit in line with EU standards.

FamilyMart last month teamed up with microbrewery restaurant Le Ble d’or to introduce a beer-flavored ice cream, promoting it as “the best summertime treat.”

The two companies launched promotional vouchers, offering free beer with every ice cream purchase, which has angered parents who have expressed concerns about their children’s health and lifestyle.

The parents’ worries are not groundless, the foundation said, citing a study by National Taiwan University College of Public Health professor Chen Wei-jen (陳為堅), which showed that the percentage of Taiwanese who drink alcoholic beverages increased from 45.4 to 58.8 percent in 2014.

The study showed a growing trend of drinking among teenagers and said that exposure to alcohol could impede the development of the brain and the nervous system, and might lead to social problems.

The foundation has surveyed 2,630 pupils and found that 36 percent of them had drunk alcohol, and the percentage of respondents who said that they had drunk alcohol was in direct proportion to the concentration of convenience stores or supermarkets near their schools, foundation chairman Yu Kai-hsiung (游開雄) said.

Citing the WHO’s Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, published in 2014, Yu said that 3.3 million people worldwide died of alcohol abuse in 2012, which was equal to the number of people who died of HIV, tuberculosis and violence combined.

Taiwanese regulations define alcoholic food products as those with an alcohol concentration of 0.5 percent or higher, while those with a concentration of below 0.5 percent are categorized as food products, Yu said.

The EU has set its standard at 0.05 percent, he said.

Although the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法) prohibits people from offering alcoholic drinks to minors, the nation has not passed legislation dedicated to protecting minors from alcohol like Japan has, Yu said.

“Handing out beer vouchers to minors increases their exposure to alcohol and has raised concerns from non-governmental organizations, public health academics and physicians,” he said.

The foundation is strongly opposed to offering any alcoholic food products or drinks to minors, or using alcohol as a marketing tool, Yu said.

The foundation urges all concerned authorities to follow the EU and lower the permissible alcohol concentration in food products to 0.05 percent to improve the protection of minors, he said.

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